Does WordPress Need 1,000s of Block Themes in the Era of Full Site Editing?

Does WordPress Need 1,000s of Block Themes in the Era of Full Site Editing?

“I have so many design ideas in my head that I am about to make it my mission to singlehandedly fulfill [Matt Mullenweg’s] vision of 5,000 Full Site Editing #WordPress themes in the directory,” tweeted Brian Gardner earlier today.

Daniel Schutzsmith responded:

I’m just not seeing the need for more than one theme for FSE as long as I can override the look of it.

Would appreciate someone explaining why one theme like @frostwp COULDN’T just be the standard.

Making more themes feels like it defeats the concept of FSE altogether.

It is not the first time someone asked whether more than one block theme is necessary. In 2019, Rich Tabor proposed adding a base theme to WordPress itself, one upon which others would be built, if at all.

Even that was not the first time someone had pondered similar one-theme utopias throughout the platform’s history. Many framework-style parent themes have all made a run for it.

Let us assume for a moment that WordPress has reached a state where all themes no longer need custom PHP and CSS code. We are nowhere near that point yet, but we can imagine such a day might be possible in the relatively distant future. In this ideal world, templating, styling, theme-supported features, and plugin integration are neatly packaged into something configurable from the admin. In practice, users could control any aspect of their site’s front-end through the interface.

The problem is that someone still needs to make those customizations, and not everyone has a knack for design. One person’s ability does not automatically translate to all other users.

Perhaps a more crucial point is that not everyone wants to customize their site’s design. Some people simply want to find something that suits their style and move along.

There are alternative routes for arriving at the same destination, but themes are currently the only reliable vehicle.

Schutzsmith tweeted the following in response to Jamie Marsland, who likened the notion to asking Picasso for the canvas instead of the finished painting:

Themes and swapping out the whole thing is an old way of thinking. Sure a theme could = painting but I’m saying why can’t we just swap out the theme.json and get the same result? Why the need for themes at all when all we need to change is theme.json.

That is a future that I would not mind striving for. It is not insurmountable, but there is an uphill climb that WordPress will undoubtedly struggle with. Without a standardized CSS toolkit in place, switching theme.json files simply does not work. If WordPress tackles that problem, it takes us one step closer.

But theme.json only represents settings and styles. It says nothing about the structure of a website. Pre-configured templates are still necessary. Right now, that job sits squarely on top of the theme author’s shoulders.

If and when a



This article was written by Justin Tadlock and originally published on WP Tavern.

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